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IT'S AUTUMN 2003 and Manchester is undergoing the biggest wave of redevelopment and construction for many years. Everywhere you look there are cranes and scaffolding. Old landmarks are being demolished and new ones are starting to appear. Many are already finished, others are still in the planning stage. Will the end result be a city we can all be proud of or are the mistakes of the 60's being repeated all over again? Here I present a small sample of what's happening, captured while out and about in the city. See if you can predict the future...

THE CITY OF MANCHESTER STADIUM is the new home of Manchester City Football Club, who moved in following its final completion during 2003. This is the main entrance just off Ashton New Road. It was designed by Ove Arup International and built by Laing O'Rourke.

EWM says: The high-tech metallic stadium combines the curves of a sports car with the structural grace of a suspension bridge. The O'Rourke in the recently merged construction company Laing O'Rourke is no relation to me!

THE CITY OF MANCHESTER STADIUM was the focal point of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. To accommodate track and other sports, a gap was left at the north end, which was filled in during 2003. The vivid green pitch is encircled by gently curving terraces with seats in Manchester City's sky blue colour.

EWM says: I visited the stadium in May when I was the guide on a visit by the Greater London Architecture Club, and in October when I attended the Manchester Civic Society Awards Lunch, held in the stadium's superb function rooms.

MANCHESTER CITY'S MAINE RD GROUND in Moss Side is pictured here shortly after the club vacated it. The stadium with its blue-painted exterior and rooftop arches will soon be just a memory. The building is to be taken down and replaced by new housing. Many items of memorabilia from the stadium have been sold.

EWM says: According to local legend the stadium was cursed by travelling people who were forcibly removed from the site prior to construction in the 1920's. I wonder if the alleged curse ever took any tangible form and whether it is still in force?

THE CITY OF MANCHESTER STADIUM offers spectacular views in all directions. Here we are looking east towards the Velodrome. The Pennines are visible in the distance, with old terraced housing behind, and the Asda petrol station at the front. The new Sportcity Living apartments by Countryside Properties have appeared on the left. The Ashton Canal runs behind them.

EWM says: If was possible to look back into the past you would see the old Philips Park power station with its cooling towers. In an interesting transformation of use, pedal power is now expended where electric power was once produced!


A DEVELOPMENT OF APARTMENTS has appeared on the vacant site along Great Ancoats Street in front of the historic mills.

EWM says: It looks like an office building but it's a residential development. The bright orange bricks and horizontal emphasis of the south east facade doesn't fit in very well with the neighbouring mills. The south west facade (left) is a much better match but is on the wrong side.

THE ROCHDALE CANAL is as calm a a mill pond. We are looking from Dale Street Canal Basin, currently an area of redevelopment. Reflected in the glassy surface of the canal,, the mills of Ancoats form a continuous line which is broken in size, colour and outline by the new apartment building. A new semicircular footbridge is also reflected in the water.

EWM says: This area has enormous potential due to its internationally significant industrial and architectural heritage and its attractive waterside location next to the city centre. I hope the planners, developers and architects get it right.

All photos and articles © Aidan O'Rourke

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